This was the last page of the The Hindu newspaper, Tuesday 17th April. A very well respected newspaper in this country (although I did bash them for their unfair cooking competition I participated in) and the only newspaper I will read in India. But here is one more slip up….
The article on the back page, shown below, is about traffic fatalities and injuries in Indian cities in 2010 caused by cars. Our very own Vishakapatnam features at the bottom of the list with 437 fatal accidents killing 460 people in 2010. Delhi tops the charts with 2104 fatal accidents and 2153 people killed.
The article hones in on the problem blaming among others, fast foreign cars driven rashly on Indian roads that do not have the infrastructure for the safe driving of these “speed machines.” No surprise then that these fast cars or rather the rich arrogant drivers behind the wheel of these fast cars are responsible for a majority of accidents especially in Delhi. The police are afraid of arresting drivers of fast foreign cars, ie. expensive cars because they are unsure of who he is and how much clout he weilds. “Janthe ho, mere baap kaun hai?” (“You know who my father is?“) is the common retort by young rich spoilt brats driving expensive cars with ruthless speed. The BMW seems to have been at the centre of a number of hit and runs in Delhi and Mumbai and worse still, according to the article, hit and runs abetted by the police.
The first goof up is in the wording. The article reads and I quote, “Delhi roads lack proper signs, signage, zebra crossings and specification of speed limits. In short, it does not have world-class infrastructure to allow these foreign speed machines to run on its roads unbridled.“ Here’s the problem – unbridled, meaning without restriction, without license. Why on earth would we want infrastructure to “allow” them to be unbridled??
But here comes the biggest goof up. In the other half of the paper, the section just below this one, is the following advert for guess who – Volkswagen. One of those high end foreign speed machines targeted in the article above. And what is the advert for – a video screen on the head rests to watch the cricket! Ya, like drivers need more stimulation (distraction) than what they already get driving on Indian roads.
We don’t need X-boxes and PlayStations in this country – just get in to your car and there is more stimulation than one person should endure. The lack of road etiquette, rules or lane driving means that you are not only looking ahead but also predicting whether the cyclist in the side street joining the road is going to enter right in front of your car. Indian drivers are also mind readers – you have to read the body language of the motorist in the extreme left lane to predict whether he will suddenly, without warning, want to go right. Old people, children, dogs, cows/buffaloes and cyclists are to be kept far far away from and dealt with the same caution as you would a highly incendiary object.
C’mon, The Hindu – sponsorship is one thing, but I mean c’mon this is just ridiculous. And I doubt Volkswagen would be happy with the placement of their logo under an article about foreign cars causing accidents.
Volkswagen PR, Das Auto, Du Listening?